By Marty Metzger
Just say the word ‘princess’ and most little girls’ eyes light up. Imagine how they’d react if they actually lived out a real fairy tale!
Haley Mayrose of Windsor, Colo., travelled all the way to Paris, France to do exactly that on a daily basis. She flew on a jet to get there, of course, but you might say she really danced her way to the land of the Eiffel Tower.
Like many young children, Mayrose took a variety of dance classes. In 2009, she began lessons at Contemporary Dance Academy (CDA) in Fort Collins. Within four years, she helped run the school. Owner Polly Sutton had danced with Disney at its theme parks and convinced Mayrose that she’d someday be good enough to do likewise. A dream began.
Even while majoring in Science at C.U. Boulder, Mayrose always kept that beautiful fantasy in the back of her mind. Then she learned about a Disney program that offers students from select schools the opportunity to earn college credit. She signed up and spent eight months at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Her goal was entertainment but she initially served as a member of their Guest Relations department.
Once back in Colorado, Mayrose started auditioning with Disney but found it too expensive to periodically fly back and forth to Florida. In 2016, she saw a notice for a Texas audition. Besides Disneyland and Disney World in the U.S., the company has parks in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and Paris. The Texas opportunity was for the Paris location.
One-way tickets to the Lone Star state at the time were just $25. How could she pass up that deal? She and mom Stacey made a Girls’ Weekend of it.
The audition process was a success. From May 2017 through January 10, 2018, the 23-year-old Windsor resident danced with Disney, exactly as her former teacher had predicted years earlier. It’s been even more wonderful than she’d dreamed.
“I love dancing for Disney,” she declared. “You can find me ‘hanging out’ with Sleeping Beauty (aka Princess Aurora) in Marne-la-Vallee Chessy, a Paris suburb.”
As here, Sleeping Beauty is a classical children’s story in France, where it’s called “La Belle au Bois Dormant”.
Dancing in the daily parade, which lasts 28 minutes start to finish, takes a lot of energy. At Christmastime it’s conducted three times a day. Paris weather pretty much parallels that in Colorado but, even in snow, the show must go on. When not dancing in the parade, Aurora and Prince Phillip meet and greet park guests.
Mayrose is trained in classical ballet. One of her favorite roles here in Northern Colorado was as The Nutcracker’s Dew Drop Fairy, which she performed with CDA.
State Street Ballet, a national touring company, presented “The Jungle Book” at Fort Collins’ Lincoln Center. In advance, extras arranged through CDA learned their parts via videos. Mayrose was a quick study who thoroughly enjoyed playing a monkey and a vine.
She recalled, “It was so interesting because we had only one week to learn our parts and then perform with a professional dance company. It was a good look into the professional side of dancing.”
Mayrose returned to Disneyland Paris on May 22, 2018 to fulfill a second contract, this one for eight months. In July, she’ll be up for review for permanent French residency. She’s thoroughly captivated by the French lifestyle, which she describes as slower and easier than here. Many other differences intrigue her.
“Everything is far cheaper, too,” she noted. “And grocery stores are in the malls!”
Foodstuffs occupy a whole floor of mutli-level malls and include a huge variety of produce, cheeses, meats and fresh fish. Mayrose graphically described just exactly how fresh those fish are.
“They actually gut the fish and cut off their heads right in front of you! I’d never seen anything like that before.”
Especially in a stylish mall.
She added that those grocers each have what’s called an American section. The French apparently think they’re honoring Yankee taste buds with ‘staples’ that made Mayrose chuckle: American beer, root beer, pancake syrup, potato chips and other sundry junk foods.
In central Paris, however, there’s a real American grocery store called “Thanksgiving”. Mayrose sees it as a godsend because it’s the one and only place she could find mac n’ cheese, her absolute favorite guilty pleasure.
“I just had to have it. But it’s $6.00 US per box! So, towards the end of my first contract, my mom started sending me care packages of the stuff,” she tastefully recalled.
During her second contract, Mayrose looks forward to auditioning for Disney’s “Wild West Show”. To be successful, she must speak with an American accent, ride a horse, and shoot a (fake) gun; check, check and check! She’ll be elated if chosen.
Mayrose has made many new, some international, friends at Disneyland Paris. Her BFF, for example, is from Australia. One especially dear soul, however, was left behind in Windsor.
“I love my dog more than anything in the world!”
But he’s not a Poodle and can’t speak French, so Murphy can’t go with.
To learn more about Disneyland Paris, visit www.disneylandparis.com